Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Trumpet Virtuoso's First Traditional Jazz Album Hits #1

With his new album, When I Fall In Love, virtuoso jazz trumpeter Chris Botti has tapped into the record-buying public's growing desire for classic romantic jazz sounds. Bulleting up the Billboard Top 200 best-selling albums chart, When I Fall In Love, Botti's first full-length traditional jazz album, has made its way into the ranks of the Top 40 best-selling albums, of any genre, in the country.

Released on September 28, 2004, When I Fall In Love is currently the #1 Top Jazz Album and the #1 Traditional Jazz Album in America. The album peaked at #3 on Billboard's prestigious Heatseekers best-selling new albums chart. When I Fall In Love is the third best-selling traditional jazz album of the year.
[prnewswire.com] Columbia Records

Monday, November 29, 2004

Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson

The Grammy Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning trumpeter Wynton Marsalis has lent his superb compositional and performing talents to the creation of the original score for the new PBS Ken Burns documentary Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise And Fall Of Jack Johnson, a detailed portrait of the first African-American Heavyweight Champion of the World. Marsalis and Burns last worked together on Burns’s 2000 PBS documentary Jazz, a 10-part series that explored the history of the music, on which Marsalis was Senior Creative Consultant.

The music on Unforgivable Blackness comprises 16 new Marsalis compositions and seven interpretations of material composed by WC Handy, Jelly Roll Morton (3 tracks were drawn from Marsalis’s 1999 release Standard Time, Volume 6: Mr. Jelly Lord, a tribute to the music of Morton), and others. Conjuring up the early 1900s jazz that was current to Jack Johnson’s life (1878-1946), the score provides the perfect backdrop to Burns’s film, capturing all the dramatic tension inherent in Johnson’s story, from the joy of ultimate triumph to the sadness of inescapable oppression.

Ken Burns’ Florentine Films has produced Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson for a PBS airdate of January 17th & 18th, 2005. Noted historian and biographer Geoffrey Ward will release The Autobiography of Jack Johnson in October 2004. PBS Home Video and Paramount DVD will release a DVD in January 2005.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Race is on to save jazz's rich heritage

Historians, music buffs and urban cheerleaders simply in love with the city's legacy are rallying and racing to preserve nearly 600 New Orleans homes and buildings that in some way are connected to the birth of one of the true American art forms, perhaps the definitive score for this country's social and political history.
Miami Herald

Saturday, November 27, 2004

'Django': Guitar Hero

Like Miles Davis, Django Reinhardt is so famous his first name is usually enough to identify him. His virtuosity was astounding: despite a maimed fretting hand he redefined jazz guitar, blazing longer, more complex lyrical solos than anyone had coaxed from six strings.
(Sunday Book Review)

Friday, November 26, 2004

Sax master Boney James delivers smooth jazz mix

So it may be easy to dismiss James on the radio as Kenny G-meets-R&B, but it is pretty hard to deny his talent and showmanship when he goes to the trouble of putting the bell of his sax right in your lap.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Jazz singer Monheit thrilled to be `Taking a Chance'

``I used to watch all the great old movies with Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Ginger Rogers and the ones that MGM put out were my favorites,'' she recalled.``I learned so much from watching them because I was hearing the standards in their original setting, with the story line around them.''

Monheit's own approach to singing is as inspired by drama and romance as that of any jazz vocalist on the scene, and the material she chose for the new album takes full advantage of that, especially on the smaller-group numbers.
Bob Young [bostonherald.com]

3 Music Companies Will Use Online File-Sharing Service

The Universal Music Group, Sony BMG Music Entertainment and the Warner Music Group, three of the four major music companies, have licensed their music catalogs to Wurld Media, the company said Wednesday.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Kenny G "At Last....the Duets"

Smooth jazz icon saxophonist Kenny G delivers his first all guest-star album with At Last...The Duets Album. Featuring a coterie of big name artists from the pop music world including Barbra Streisand, Burt Bacharach, LeAnn Rimes and others, At Last essentially maximizes the vocal crossover aesthetic prominent on many of G's prior albums. Largely, the formula works coming off as a breezy, laid-back concert with G adding soft asides to his guest's vocal performances. To these ends, Brian McKnight reinvigorates "Careless Whisper with a quiet storm intensity, Chaka Khan actually betters Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful" suffusing it with an infectious gospel/soul vibe, and Earth, Wind & Fire pull a "no brainer" on Outkast's "The Way You Move". Add to this a fairly organic production style that mixes in lush orchestral arrangements, funky organs and real percussion as well as artists who seem to really enjoy themselves and you've got one of Kenny G's most pleasing efforts...At Last.
Matt Collar [allmusic.com]

At CD101.9, there's a Chill in the air

"Chill" started in Europe in the late '90s, says WQCD senior vice president Barry Mayo, and it incorporates elements of pop, jazz, electronica and world music. It has some overlap with the "lounge" music that has become hip in recent years, though Lawrence says WQCD will continue to focus on contemporary recordings.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Jazz guitarist leaves mark in many places

Turn on a radio station and you might think that you hear his music. Sit in a caf� where lattes and soft guitar music are served and you might think you hear his music. And on any number of CDs, there will be a riff that reminds you of him.

Him is Peter White, the ubiquitous guitarist who will perform a special Christmas show with trumpeter Rick Braun and saxophonist Mindi Abair Nov. 27, at the Hyatt Regency in Incline Village, part of an 18-city tour
[Michael Martinez - Reno Gazette Journal]

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Bebel Gilberto: An Upbeat Bossa, With Nova Intentions

She is not a purist. Ms. Gilberto's music often looks back to the meticulous small bands of old bossa nova recordings. But she also draws on the Brazilian pop that followed the bossa nova, using upbeat rhythms from across Brazil, and she has drawn on Bahian songwriters like Caetano Veloso and Carlinhos Brown.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Ray Charles' ``Genius Loves Company'' Ships 3 Million Copies

The considerable sales of "Genius Loves Company" were facilitated in part by a unique distribution and marketing relationship between Concord Records and Starbucks Hear Music(TM) label. Starbucks Coffee Company (Nasdaq:SBUX) has been singularly responsible for nearly 30 percent of the total domestic sales of the album. On December 1, Starbucks retail locations in North America will offer the exclusive "Box of Genius" 2-CD holiday gift set, featuring "Genius Loves Company," Charles' great hits CD, "Visionary Soul," and a limited edition Ray Charles Starbucks Card.

'Israeli' jazz star praises Yasir Arafat

"Let me make it clear, I am not an Israeli. I was born in Israel, for the first 22 years of my life I thought of myself as an Israeli. But when I realised what Israel was all about, I stopped regarding myself as an Israeli. I demand not to be seen as one. I am a Hebrew-speaking Palestinian," he says.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Robin Kenyatta, Jazz Saxophonist, Dies at 62

In a career that began in the 1960's, Mr. Kenyatta collaborated with notable figures like the saxophonists Archie Shepp and Sonny Stitt, the trumpeter Bill Dixon, the trombonist Roswell Rudd and the pianists Valerie Capers and Andrew Hill. Best known as an alto saxophonist, he also played tenor saxophone and flute.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Veteran jazz musician Pete Jolly dead at 72

Veteran jazz keyboardist Pete Jolly, who performed on some of television's most popular theme songs and was a regular on the Southern California jazz scene for 40 years, has died at age 72.

Jolly died Saturday at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena of complications of bone marrow cancer and irregular heartbeat, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

The musician, whose composition "Little Bird" was nominated for a Grammy in 1963, formed the Pete Jolly Trio in 1964 with drummer Nick Martinis and bassist Chuck Berghofer. The group continued to play South California clubs until Jolly was hospitalized in August.

Jolly, who played piano, organ and accordion, can be heard on such television theme songs as "Get Smart," "The Love Boat," "I Spy," Mannix," "Dallas" and "MASH," as well as hundreds of movie soundtracks, including "The Man With the Golden Arm" and "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid."

His recordings included 1963's "The Sensational Pete Jolly Gases Everybody," "Strike Up the Band" in 1980 and "Yeah" in 1995. His last album, "Collaboration, was recorded with Swedish pianist Jan Lundgren and released" in 2001.

Born Peter Ceragioli Jr. in New Haven, Conn., Jolly began playing the accordion at age 3. At age 7, he appeared on the coast-to-coast radio broadcast "Hobby Lobby," where the announcer mispronounced his name as Pete Jolly.

Jolly, whose father was also a musician, began playing in bands in junior high school. Over the years he worked with such jazz fixtures as Buddy DeFranco, Red Norvo, Art Pepper and others.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Jane Monheit: A Torch Singer in Improv Terrain

You have only to absorb the vocal throb of Jane Monheit singing "Haunted Heart" to recognize the raw talent that has elicited hyperbolic support from some critics and record companies. At her most impressive, gliding up and down the song's melodic groundswell, this putative jazz singer wails with the unguarded passion of someone in the throes of a hopeless romantic obsession.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

NEA names seven Jazz Masters

The National Endowment for the Arts came to town yesterday to name big band leader Artie Shaw, vocalist Shirley Horn, guitarist Kenny Burrell, clarinetist/composer Paquito D'Rivera, keyboardist Jimmy Smith, trombonist/arranger Slide Hampton and promoter George Wein as its 2005 Jazz Masters.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Monday, November 01, 2004

Ronny Jordan - After 8

Signed to the N-Coded label after leaving Blue Note, guitarist and composer Ronny Jordan is apparently reconsidering his past directions. Where Jordan fiercely applied and defended his gritty fusion of smooth jazz, funk, and hip-hop throughout the '90s, it appears that After 8 backs off from the ferocity of his earlier music. Gone are the duets with Mos Def and the presence of DJ Spinna, and in their place is elegantly played, stylishly wrought, sheen-filled smooth jazz. The drum loops are still present, but their jagged edges are glossed over and rounded. While it's true that Jordan was going for a late-night groove sound, one that employed more traditional jazz elements like horns ("7th Heaven"), he waters these things down so much that they are of little to no effect in the overall picture. On "Search to Find," Jordan goes acoustic with a female vocalist warbling the title as a chorus. It feels more like a new age cum blanched soul experiment than anything else. Only on "Steppin' Out," with its popping bassline, slippery loop, and edgy guitar, does Jordan comes close to being the monster stylist he created over a decade ago. His version of the standard "I Remember You" sounds like dentist-office jazz. The album's closer, "Bahia Magic," driven by a burning samba rhythm by composer Dario Boente, generates some heat, with its alternately programmed and played drums and a beautiful wordless choral layer, but this track is almost all Boente, with Jordan filling the edges with a solo and some chord progressions. Listeners can't blame N-Coded for this set, because in the liners Jordan claims the entire idea was his. That's too bad. Perhaps now that this is out of his system, Jordan will return to his particular brand of restless beat musicology; After 8 just doesn't cut it.
Review by Thom Jurek [AMG]

Geri Allen: A Life in Song... and Jazz

Pianist and composer Geri Allen knew she wanted to be a jazz musician after spending most of her childhood listening to her father's jazz records.

It worked out, and now she plays some of the best spots in New York, Los Angeles and across Europe. But none of it came easily or quickly.

She got her first big step up in the music world when she was accepted to an arts magnet school in her hometown of Detroit. Then came a degree in jazz studies from Howard University; a masters in ethnomusicology from the University of Pittsburgh; and finally invitations to perform in the United States and overseas.